‘Cristina’ is the lead track and standout, a downbeat slice of organ-led psych worthy of Metronomy’s recent ‘Love Letters’ album. ‘23 Floors Up’ is a worthy second; its Bowie-like reverie bolstered by swooning production from former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. But there’s a weedy politeness at work here which suggests that, whatever Teleman have been eating for breakfast of late, it sure as hell isn’t Weetabix.
Luckily for them, this incarnation just seem to fit everything a lot better. Take ‘Crisitina’ for example, an early single for Teleman and the first track on debut LP Breakfast. Opening with the cold electric hum of an organ and Sanders’ vocals, we’re then joined by simple, attention-grabbing bass and guitars that float around before gently pulling everything together. That space between everything seems to help in grabbing your attention, forcing the listener to sit up and take notice of whatever strange subject Sanders is singing about.
It might be that producer Bernard Butler deserves some credit for the particular way that Breakfast sounds, but that would be mean nothing without the songs that the band have written, and the fact that any of the ten tracks here could confidently be chucked out as a single is testament to how good they are. ‘23 Floors Up’ sounds like a lost Britpop classic, opening with a keyboard ripped from the Pulp scrapbook, striding confidently towards a classic Albarn-esque chorus and even weaving a Bernard Butler-style glam guitar line through its coda. It’s not simply a nostalgic throwback though - the track and the rest that accompany it here deserve to be judged on their own merit. ‘Mainline’ could sit confidently on any of Blur’s post-Blur releases, whilst the simple beauty of ‘Lady Low’, all hazy Sunday hangover vibes and Bowie-tastic sax solo, could comfortably slide onto the Trainspotting soundtrack and not sound out of place.
(Drowned In Sound)
One of Breakfast’s best tracks, “Skeleton Dance”, features a spindly, delirious riff built around another irresistible tune, whilst Butler sprinkles an intermittent dream-pop gloss over segments of “Steam Train Girl” in between screwy shifts into jerky, crunchy rock mode. The orchestral upsurge in “23 Floors Up” and “In Your Fur” and fizzy Britpop stomps"Mainline” and closer “Travel Song” bear further testament to Teleman’s songwriting knack.
Corresponding with Sanders’ vocal inflection, there’s a quintessentially British tone to the lyrics. “Monday Morning” is an austere synthpop take on the Brett Anderson school of urban ennui (“I don’t care if it’s Saturday night or Monday morning under the plastic sky…”) and “Saturday Redhead” finds Sanders aching for the weekend (“Saturday, Saturday, don’t be long - I’m going out of my mind…”)
“Lady Low” is a Ray Davies-esque, saxophone-accompanied daydream inspired by a wistful roadside gaze at the passing countryside (“Low lands, spires of the churches enchant me, girls on their bicycles pass me”) evoking, weirdly enough, former PM John Major’s melancholy reminiscence of a land of “long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer and invincible green suburbs”.
A hidden track following “Travel Song” peddles oddball, throwaway Joy Division-lite, but as statement of intents go, Teleman have made a damn good start.
(The Line Of Best Fit)